Maybe we can’t blame people for failing tests that they undergo? Maybe some people are too weak; like the Jewish boy you spoke about tonight who became a Buddhist. He was from an irreligious family so he didn’t know better.
We have to know that when it comes to the ordeals which are presented to us, weakness or weak-mindedness is not an excuse.
Why is it that a college boy born in an irreligious family will take a trip to the Far East to enter a Buddhist monastery? He knows he’s a Jew. So why doesn’t he give his own faith a real trial?
Because he certainly knew nothing of Buddhism at the beginning. He put a lot of time into it! And so if he shaves his head and allows a pigtail to grow out of it and he puts on a saffron robe and he stands on Kings Highway at the street subway showing off that he’s a Buddhist, what should we say? Should we say “Nebach, a pity on him. He came from an irreligious family that didn’t observe Judaism”? But they didn’t observe Buddhism either! And he has enough loyalty to Buddhism; it means he turned on his parents, on his mother’s faith and gave it a kick. He despised it and therefore he is one of the mordim and poshim.
Why is it that people have abilities in business – they were able to learn a business – but when it comes to Torah, they claim the disability of “I didn’t know”? What do you mean you didn’t learn? You learned electronics!
You know, I cannot repair a television set. It’s quite complicated. If you have brains enough to learn how to repair a television set, why didn’t you have brains enough to learn how to translate Kitzur Shulchan Aruch into English? Or at least read one that’s already been translated into English?
The answer is there could be some excuses, but there’ll be much less than we think. Much less!
The gemara tells a story. A sage was walking by a river and an am ha’aretz, an ignorant man was fishing with nets. And the sage was talking in Torah to himself. So as he passed by, the ignoramus began to laugh at him.
So the sage said, “Why are you laughing? You should be doing the same thing that I’m doing!”
The ignorant man said, “Well, I never learned! What do you expect of me?!”
So the sage said, “Who wove these nets?”
So the ignoramus said, “I wove the nets.”
The sage said, “You know, it’s quite a craft to weave nets. I can’t do it. If you have brains enough to learn to weave nets, then you should have had brains enough to learn Torah.”
Now in some cases, there may be an excuse for this, but many people who deceive themselves with this excuse are making a big error. If you have a good head for business, if you have a good head for science, if you have a good head for everything else in the world except Torah, then you’re going to be held accountable.
And therefore, these people who say that, “It’s not our fault and the reason that we’re Buddhist is because we weren’t brought up right,” it’s no excuse.
TAPE # 52 (March 1975)